For the seventeenth month in a row, the number of people becoming homeless in San Diego County outpaced the number moving into homes.
The Regional Task Force on Homelessness reports that 1,475 San Diegans became homeless for the first time in August and 733 exited homelessness. Put another way, more than twice the number of San Diegans accessed homeless services for the first time in August than were housed.
The data reflects a harsh reality: Local efforts to combat homelessness can’t keep up with the flood of people losing their homes and thus the region isn’t putting a significant dent in the problem even as local leaders tout increased investments in combating homelessness.
What won’t solve the problem: Some politicians have touted CARE Court, a new system aimed at compelling more people into mental health treatment, as a panacea for homelessness. It won’t be.
As our Lisa Halverstadt recently reported, only people with certain psychotic disorders will be eligible for the initiative debuting Oct. 1 – and it’s not even clear what percentage of participants will be homeless despite rhetoric suggesting otherwise.
The county’s behavioral health director recently told Halverstadt the county estimates it will receive about 1,000 CARE Court petitions a year and that a judge will determine about 250 of those patients qualify for treatment.
More on CARE Court: In an interview with The Union-Tribune two weeks before the new system takes effect, the county’s behavioral health director emphasized the small number of people the initiative will serve. For that reason, the county official told the U-T he’s feeling “pretty good” about the county’s ability to link participants with treatment despite the region’s overtaxed and clogged behavioral health system. He acknowledged the county’s still working on housing options.
Politics Report: About That MTS Severance Offer
We’ve learned more about what the Metropolitan Transit System offered former employee Grecia Figueroa in a severance agreement.
Take a step back: Figueroa is suing the agency and former County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher. She accused him of sexual assault and harassment. In a July update to the lawsuit, Figueroa’s attorneys revealed that MTS had not only fired her but also offered her a severance in exchange for her agreeing not to pursue legal action against MTS or Fletcher.
Late last week, MTS released the full severance agreement. Scott Lewis has more details in the Politics Report.
Also, what’s going to happen with the Union-Tribune? What do the new owners have planned for the paper’s future?
Speaking of MTS …
Our managing editor rode the trolley on Friday and wrote about the experience in her weekly newsletter. Spoiler alert: It wasn’t a super smooth ride.
The transit system’s board has decided to add credit card tapping to its fare payment options. But it won’t be available for a while.
VOSD Podcast: How the City Attorney Could Change
On the latest episode our co-hosts discuss the race to replace City Attorney Mara Elliott. She is termed out. The crew also gets into the history of the City Attorney’s role in San Diego and what this change could mean for local politics.
In Other News
- Costs for road repairs are rising much faster than the city of San Diego’s available funding. So, the city may soon start using in-house crews instead of contractors to cut costs, among a series of other changes stemming from a grand jury report released this summer. (Union-Tribune)
- San Diego’s unemployment rate is higher than it’s been in more than a year. (Union-Tribune)
- A federal judge temporarily struck down an Escondido Union School District policy requiring teachers refer to students’ preferred gender identities at school, but switch back to biological pronouns and legal names when speaking with parents. Two teachers sued over the policy arguing it violated students’ First Amendment rights. (Fox 5)
- A new city audit revealed San Diego violated its own purchasing and contract rules, spending more than $4 million using rules that allows the city to bypass typical buying practices in cases of emergency. (Union-Tribune)
- Employees and members at two Chuze Fitness gyms in Mission Valley and Chula Vista may have been exposed to tuberculosis. Dates of potential exposure are Jan. 4 to Feb. 22 of this year. Symptoms of TB include persistent cough, fever, night sweats and unexplained weight loss. (Union-Tribune)
The Morning Report was written by Lisa Halverstadt, Andrea Lopez-Villafaña and MacKenzie Elmer.